Points of view
THE arrival of India's new prime minister in Washington this week provides us with an interesting study in the difficulties in world relations which arise out of a difference in point of view. For example, India in the eyes of President Ronald Reagan is a big and important country which has become too chummy with the Soviet Union for American taste or comfort.
But the United States in the eyes of any Indian prime minister is a country that has consistently sided with its own local enemies during most of the time since the British pulled out of India in 1947.
There is more history about Asia since Indian independence than most Westerners realize or remember. India has fought three wars with Pakistan and one war with China.
The war with China in 1962 was fought only in the high Himalayas. But it was hard fought. The Chinese won. Relations between India and China have been cool and distant ever since. During that war India became a customer for Soviet weapons. The Soviets had helicopters with the ability to operate up near the top of the world's highest mountains. Western helicopters did not have that ability.
The three India-Pakistan wars have caused the two to come to regard each other as habitual enemies. An estimated million people died in racial violence at the time of independence and partition. It included a limited war that was fought in the northwest over Kashmir.
The 1962 war between India and China hardened the friction between India and Pakistan because Pakistan then entered into commercial and trade agreements with China.
The second war between India and Pakistan, in 1966, was largely over Kashmir. The third India-Pakistan war, in 1971-72, began as a civil war, with the East Pakistanis striking for independence from West Pakistan. Indian troops came in to aid the East Pakistanis.
The US ``tilted'' toward Pakistan in all of India's three wars with Pakistan. The most prominent act of favoritism toward Pakistan came during the 1971-72 war when President Nixon ordered a US carrier task force into the Bay of Bengal. It was too late to turn the tide of battle. Pakistan lost its Eastern Province.
It was soon after, in 1972, that the government of Pakistan spirited Henry Kissinger secretly to Peking and thus paved the way for the resumption of normal relations between the US and China. Mr. Kissinger had flown to Pakistan and then supposedly went off for a weekend at a Pakistan government rest camp. Instead, he flew secretly to Peking.
The US bases its policies in Asia largely on the Pakistan-China axis.
The logical reverse of this US association with China and Pakistan is for India to seek an association with Russia, which is in a state of friction with both of India's local rivals and one-time enemies.
Since Pakistan takes its weapons largely from the US, and since China is beginning to get US help in modernizing its armed forces, it is logical for India to continue to be a customer of Moscow.
During the time of Rajiv Gandhi's mother as prime minister of India, the India-Moscow association was so strong that India did not join in the chorus of disapproval over Moscow's invasion of Afghanistan. Her son has wanted to get India back into a more neutral position between the US and USSR. The plain fact, however, is that the US sides with India's two main enemies, Pakistan and China.
Nor is there likelihood of change in the above arrangements. Pakistan wants all of Kashmir from India. India wants to keep Kashmir. China and India maintain rival frontier claims. Moscow sides with India against both Pakistan and China, while the US regards Pakistan and China as the two best barriers to further Soviet expansion in Asia.
So President Reagan and Prime Minister Gandhi can have pleasant chats, but they are not likely to end India's association with Moscow.